Unnatural Outbound Linking Penalised by Google
Google began to place manual actions on websites from the 9th April. You can check whether you have been sent an outbound link penalty via the Google Search Console message centre.
As part of Google’s ongoing commitment to ‘natural’ search results, they are now placing manual link penalties on sites deemed to be using outbound links to manipulate their algorithm.
The action taken by Google follows warnings they issued to bloggers earlier this year, when they released instructions regarding the exchange of links for product-giveaway style reviews.
Google were then advising bloggers to use the nofollow tag for such links to indicate that they hadn’t arisen organically. In other words, without the offer of a monetary/physical incentive, the link wouldn’t be there. Marketing agencies looking to acquire links were also being asked to request nofollow links.
In true Google style, they have now begun to hit sites that didn’t heed their warnings. The image to the right is a capture taken from an example complaint about the manual action in Google's support forums.
What Is Google’s Aim?
Some sceptics have suggested that the changes could drive more people towards PPC advertising. Others feel they will stop the monopolisation of search results by those willing to pay the most money.
Whatever your views are, the manual actions being applied should serve as a warning to both bloggers and website owners looking to acquire links moving forward. With seeds of doubt now placed by Google, there is likely to be a big shift in the link acquisition process.
Dealing with Penalties
Firstly, check your Google Search Console message centre. If you find that a manual penalty has been placed on your site, follow these steps:
- Identify links that have been added to your site in exchange for reciprocal links, finance or goods
- Either remove the links or add a <nofollow> attribute, which will tell Google not to crawl any links marked in this way
- Submit a reconsideration request to ask Google to consider removing the manual action penalty placed on your site
Bloggers Link to My Site – Will I Be Affected?
As things stand, this is an issue that’s difficult to provide any concrete answer to. If bloggers are now removing paid links then link value previously being sent to your site would be removed.
At the same time, there is currently no indication that you would receive a direct penalty for any inbound links acquired in product-giveaway style.
Either way, it may mean you need to re-think your existing approach to link building.
I Need Help!
If you’re struggling with any of the following issues, our digital marketing team can help:
- Assistance removing penalties placed on your site
- Link acquisition strategy
- Finding the best digital marketing strategy to adopt for your business
Call us today on 0114 2729753, or email firstname.lastname@example.org.